Not necessarily. Most conditions are not malignant, however any different or unusual changes should be investigated to exclude the possibility of cancer. Also the sooner any problems are dealt with, the better the outcome is likely to be.
Simply call 0207 563 1234, Monday to Friday between 8am and 6pm (5.30 pm on Fridays). If you are expecting your medical insurer to pay, you will need a referral letter from your GP, to see the Consultant. Please bring this with you to your first appointment. If you are referred from within 108 Harley Street, this process is straightforward. You can also self refer for a screening mammogram on the same telephone number but we will require the contact details of your Doctor to send the results to. All other X-Ray and ultrasound referrals require a medical referral eg Doctor, Physio etc. If you do not have a Doctor then an appointment can be arranged with a Consultant who can then organise the necessary examinations.
New patients seeing a consultant at 108 Harley Street will have an appointment reserved to follow their consultation, when the surgeon will confirm the diagnostic tests required. Although most appointments are booked in advance, it is sometimes possible to have either a plain x-ray or a mammogram on a ‘walk in’ basis, however it is advisable to ring the unit 0207 563 1209, to enquire about availability and any waiting time.
Ultrasounds are performed by a consultant radiologist. Our team of radiologists provides daily cover, so it is usually possible to offer an appointment within 24 hours of a request being received.
The normal diagnostic tests for breast patients include:
- Mammography: This is a diagnostic x-ray for examining the breast used mainly for patients 40 and over. It is carried out by a radiographer. The image of the breast is reviewed by a specialist consultant breast radiologist, who produces a report for the consultant breast surgeon. In order to take a mammogram the breast is compressed between 2 perspex x-ray plates, some women find this uncomfortable, and a few may find it painful.
- Ultrasound: This is the usual diagnostic investigation for patients under 35 and will also be used as an additional investigation for patients who have had a mammogram.
Ultrasound scans are painless. To conduct the procedure, a special gel is spread over the breasts, then a ‘traducer’, a small hand-held device, which emits sound waves, is passed over the area. The echoes it picks up are converted into an image of the breast tissue, which is then reviewed by a consultant radiologist who produces a report for the consultant breast surgeon.
- Fine needle aspiration cytology (FNAC) under image control: Using a very fine needle, similar to that used for blood tests, the consultant radiologist takes a small sample of cells from a breast lump. These cells are then sent for examination, by a cytologist, who looks for any signs of abnormality in the cells. To get enough material for examination under the microscope, the needle may need to be moved within the breast, which may be slightly uncomfortable. The results are usually available within 24 hours and the consultant breast surgeon will then discuss the findings with you. Fluid may also be drained from any cysts in this way.
- Core biopsy: This is a biopsy of the breast taken using a thicker needle, to obtain a very small piece of tissue. Local anaesthetic is used, to make the area numb before the biopsy is taken. A small cut is then made in the breast and the core biopsy needle inserted, to take samples. The tissue is sent for examination (histopathology) and the results are usually available within 48 - 72 hours. If the lesion is very small, or cannot be felt by the consultant breast surgeon, then this test can be conducted using x-ray or ultrasound for guidance.
It can be uncomfortable, however the consultant conducting the test will ensure that the discomfort is minimised. The test only takes a few minutes.
Results from FNAC cytology are usually available within 24 hours; histopathology on core biopsy takes 48 - 72 hours. The consultant breast surgeon will tell you when the results should be available and arrange a follow up appointment to discuss them with you. Reports for other investigations are routinely available within 24 hours.
Our team of consultant radiologists, both male and female, are all experts in imaging. However, if you wish to see a specific consultant please mention this when booking; this may lead to a small delay in your ultrasound appointment.
Yes, the consultant surgeon will routinely write to your GP, unless requested not to by the patient. They will also write to any other relevant specialists, or referring doctors, for example your gynaecologist, to inform them of all consultations, investigations and their results, as well as any treatments planned or already received. Reports will be sent to any medical practitioners not based at 108 Harley Street.
We understand how anxious and sometimes embarrassed you may feel about your appointment. Our fully trained staff will aim to make your visit as relaxed and comfortable as possible. Please do not hesitate to tell the Radiographer or Healthcare Assistant if you are overly concerned. They will be pleased to answer your questions and put your mind at rest.
The standard charges for our most common procedures are: chest x-ray £140; bilateral digital mammogram £240; bilateral breast ultrasound £250; Stork views £151. Other charges are available upon request.
Charges are routinely covered in full by all medical insurers, subject to individual policy benefit limits, restrictions and excesses. X-ray and ultrasound investigations are usually assessed against the out-patient allowance of a medical insurance policy.
For more information on charges please contact us on 0207 563 1209.
Do not hesitate to call us on 0207 563 1234 and you will be directed to the most appropriate person to answer your enquiry.
We are registered with the Care Quality Commission and subject to their audit process. We are also a BUPA Approved Breast Unit. Internally we are managed by a Medical Advisory Committee (MAC) who ensure that all regulatory matters are kept up to date and manage the conduct of the Consultants with admitting rights to 108 Harley Street. There are also regular multi-disciplinary team meetings that deal with both ongoing professional education and case management.
We are a Founder member of the Harley Street Alliance and have signed up to "The Ten Commitments". (hyperlink to PDF ) More information on the Harley Street Alliance can be found at www.harleystreet.com.